Hurricane Sandy: Nature’s Voting Ad

Whether you understand how profound the effect of global warming is on our climate, the solution, transitioning to clean energy – fast – is a policy of no regrets: the resulting job boost, lack of pollution that will significantly cut health costs, and increase in energy security will all help the economy enormously.

No matter who becomes president, this transition will not take place without a supportive Congress, which is why more people are signaling to Congress that they will vote for Congressional candidates depending on how they act on clean energy:

http://signon.org/sign/we-are-the-clean-99?source=c.em.cp&r_by=487176

Okay, back to climate change. Yes, there is controversy among scientists about just how much the general increase in temperature affects hurricanes, despite the scientific data linking increased ocean surface temperatures to more intense (and, as the raised temperatures persist, later season) hurricanes.

But hurricanes are fueled by energy and air moisture, and that’s just what we’re seeing more of, lasting longer into autumn.  Climate change affects not only intensity but size of hurricanes. The extra heat energy vacuumed off the ocean surface can be channeled into absorbing more water, increasing its size, and accelerating winds. Hurricanes are braked by the land they pass over, however, and it’s then that the amount of water does its damage. Indeed, it’s the amount of rain a slow, giant hurricane dumps, not the wind speed that has been inflicting major damage on  US communities this season, as we saw in August with Hurricane (subsequently tropical storm) Isaac.  And we are watching the same thing unfold now with Hurricane Sandy, augmented with full moon high tides.   This is the “hand of climate change” from the south, epitomized by the size and unusually late occurrence of Hurricane Sandy.

But what about the “hand of climate change” from the north?  For that is also at play here.  Remember that climate scientists warned in September that the rapidly melting Arctic is slowing the jet stream, causing larger, fewer waves.

Jet stream variability is one of the “daily” drivers of our weather. Larger, fewer waves means that the weather won’t change that fast — whatever’s coming down the line, you’ll get more of.  It helps not only droughts to persist, but winter systems, too. Hence, the coming clash of climatic titans from north and south: the jet stream is sending down a cold storm from the north, set to collide with the hurricane. But the poison is also in the persistence — thus, “climate change amplifies the intensity or DURATION (my caps) of extreme weather” as Neela Banerjee notes in her latest LA Times article.  The boxer will inflict his savage damage through persistent pummeling, not a single knockout.

Yes, climate change is affecting our weather daily, and we’re just about to have ringside seats to the next show. Indeed, if you’re on the east coast, you’re in the arena – with the lions. Obama*  and Romney may refuse to mention climate change, but that won’t stop nature from doing so.  And one of the candidates clearly believes in transitioning to clean energy. Will, we, as voters, listen to him and nature?

*Update: MTV’s Sway Williams asked Barack Obama about how he is and will address climate change. The president cited what his administration has been able to accomplish so far, and admitted it wasn’t enough. Of course not – he doesn’t have the Congressional backing to do enough….

Sources

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-hurricane-sandy-heads-to-northeast-20121027,0,3886956.story

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/astonishing-arctic-sea-ice-melt-may-lead-to-extreme-winter-weather-14989

Sway Williams asks Barack Obama about addressing climate change:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vWbwsuk3-cI

How Do Hurricanes Form? http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/hurricanes/

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About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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